Congressman Joe Wilson’s government-funded travel spending is being called into question by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as it enforces its new role on Capitol Hill. A handful of lawmakers from both parties are reportedly under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee at the urging of OCE.
At issue for Wilson is approximately $12 spent on small goblet souvenirs at $1.66 each for South Carolina servicemen in Afghanistan during one of his congressional delegation (CODEL) visits there. In an email sent to supporters, Wilson’s campaign manager shows the item and explains the reasons for purchasing.
Wilson’s opponent Rob Miller introduced the topic of per diem tracking as a major part of his platform in late July. He calls Wilson’s recent trip to the Afghanistan war zone a “junket” and documents sent to SCRN by the Miller campaign accuse Wilson of “misusing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money for his personal use.” Wilson responds that CODEL trips are important in his role on the House Armed Services Committee.
Wilson says his per diem for Afghanistan was $13 a day for canteen purchases at the embassy. Various Washington, D.C. media outlets report that other lawmakers under scrutiny are Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and former Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN). See how the process works.
When OCE sends the complaint to the House Ethics Committee, that marks the second phase of the review, which is then completed in 45 days.
The issue was broached by a March article in the Wall Street Journal in which Wilson mentioned the goblet purchase. In a follow-up article this past Wednesday, the WSJ reports that the probe began after the story was published.
Tracking this activity is difficult, as few records and no receipts have been required for per diem stipends.